Masons Big Adventure Day 5

I begin to stir early in the morning. It’s dark as I open my eyes. I know the day must begin so I force my self out of the warm blankets, peak out side and I am rewarded with the beauty of Whistler camp ground in Jasper National Park in Canada. It is incredible. The clouds hanging so low that they were touching the ground in our campsite. I could see the beautiful pine trees through them. I opened the sliding door on my van very carefully. I was very aware of the fact I was in wild territory and I was in Elk country. I didn’t want to scare one and become trampled or impaled. As I looked around I didn’t see any animals about. Even though I could only see about twenty feet I decided to see if Aarons camp has started stirring yet.

Today was a huge day. We had to travel back through Jasper into Banff. Hike to the glacier, drive to Drumheller visit the Museum and finish driving to the hotel. Tonight we will sleep in a real bed.

Aaron was awake as well. He was allready getting the stove out. Today we get to eat a warm breakfast. While breakfast was cooking we woke the rest of our traveling band. It was a rough one for Aarons crew. He ended up dumping Mason out of his sleeping bag right onto Katie. Once everyone began moving and started eating they all remembered where we were and the spirits lifted.

After breakfast Aaron had that rig in travel mode in record time. I had to dump my tanks so my four climbed in the van and we were off. Aaron decided to head towards the town of Jasper and start fueling. The first time we split up and we successfully lost each other. Cell phones didn’t have service. We were out of radio range. Somehow directions were not clearly relayed. We started towards Jasper hoping that we find Aaron and Bam!

Elk we see that the camp hosts are not lying. On the road in front of us is a huge cow elk. Very cool.

We did eventually find Aaron. Luckily his rig sticks out from the crowd and it was crowded. Jasper is a small town but very busy at the time we visited. We fueled the rigs and high tailed it back through Jasper into Banff. It seemed like a true sin. The scenery was amazing and we had no time to stop and soak it up.

It didn’t take us long to find the visitor center in Banff. It overlooks the Colombia ice fields. Our hike in Banff was to the Glacier.

We got our souvenirs, drove across the street to the trail head and began hiking.

We found a sign that displayed how fast the glacier was retreating.

The year my wife was born. That year the glacier was at that spot and now you can see it in the back ground. Just in my wifes short life so far it has dwindled significantly.

Because of safety reasons we couldn’t just walk onto the Glacier. We had ten people and paying for guides and monster truck buses were not in our budget. We did get very close though. Impressive really.

Back in the parking lot we loaded up and tore out of there. We were on our way today to see the museum. Our headliner for this trip. The reason it all began. Hauling ten buns we were cruising. Then wham road construction. Not just construction but a dump truck had tipped over the side and down the mountain while dumping his load. He wasn’t the only one in a hurry to dump his load either. My oldest Kyan was ready to donate to the sewer system. Luckily we have a toilet in the van. After the close call of nature we were still waiting. So my wife decided to to provide my son with a refill. A teenage boy with an empty stomach is not a pleasant experience. She built Dagwood sandwiches to order for each person in our consist while I crept slowly towards the construction finish line. As Amber finished and Shanna

delivered the gourmet lunch ordered from the truck behind us we finally broke through and were moving with great speed again. All the way to Drumheller Canada and the Royal Tyrell Museum.

We made it. Check out these photos. It was amazing. Worth all the effort getting here.

They found a possible relative.

As we began to wind our museum experience down we realized that we needed dinner. It was late, we had a huge day and a long way to drive yet. While looking over the museum grounds

I went to Safari/Trip Advisor and found a local favorite. I called them, explained our predicament and even though they were fifteen minuets from closing they agreed that we needed to check them out anyways. They invited us to dine with them. This was the first time we had a meal prepared for us and it was well worth it. Very cool place called Bernie and The Boys Bistro.

We were all impressed with their knowledge of Utahs world famous fry sauce. They had some missionaries visit enough that they were familiar with that delicious sauce. If you don’t know what fry sauce is make your way to Utah USA. Hint it isn’t the picture above. That is Canada’s preferred way of eating fries, with gravy.

Once we finally left it was late the sun was down and we had a long ways to go. Aaron had reserved us two rooms with points that he had with all the travels he does with work. We had to get there first though. The ride was boring and many slept. In fact once we pulled into the parking lot and climbed out of our rides I found out how hard some had slept. Mason had an accident and Katie, Masons most favorite person in the world was his snuggle buddy and got the pleasure of being peed on. Luckily she was understanding. Upset but understanding. Todays adventure was finally over. A real bed and real showers awaited us and we were ready to fall into both.

Although today was done and our goal had been met the adventure was not finished. Tomorrow we head back into the United States and Yellowstone National Park.


Nomad Life

Another year is coming to an end. As I look back through the years I realize that so much of my greatest moments came while living in my van.

It’s kinda cheating because about two years ago I upgraded to a Class B RV. If you’ve followed along then you know it has all the comforts of home in a Sprinter Van.

I will let the pics explain while I explain the pics. Here I am with The View Finder. I bought it used it needed a little work but that I could handle and it made the price affordable for me.

Look at that huge bed. It is so inviting. A couple mattress toppers and I sleep like a baby.

It fits in a regular old parking space. Very convenient!

My first night I slept in an industrial area. I had to work on that track in the back ground the next morning. Yep pretty rough commute that day.

I moved the next day about a mile away. It’s in an undeveloped area that has been preserved. Right next to the industrial area. If you know Reno/Sparks NV. Then it’s off the USA Parkway exit. Great quiet little hideaway.

My Father (Jim Hunsaker) and I were working near Yosemite National Park. We took a day and visited the park. We didn’t make it to the the valley that day but it was still awesome!

My wife and I went on a cruise from Long Beach. I drove down from Sacramento in the Van. She flew into Long Beach. After the cruise she came with me back up the coast and flew out of San Francisco. I went back to work in Sacramento. This was our spot overlooking Malibu Beach. Her first night ever sleeping in the van. We woke up to dolphins saying good morning during our coffee and breakfast.

We made it to Morro Bay next. The first pic is our lunch pull off. Then we slept at the famous Morro Bay Rock. It’s a bird refuge and a beautiful bay. Cool little tourist trap of a town too.

Next stop was Big Sur! This pic is of the Julia Pfeiffer Falls. The portal was cool too.

Our dining views in San Francisco were unheard of. We had a table that over looked the Bay. We could see the Golden Gate Bridge, the San Francisco Skyline, Alcatraz and the Bay Bridge with its new dancing lights. There isn’t a restaurant any where that can give you that. I don’t care how much money you throw around. It was a perfect way to end an epic Trip!

Even while working the guys and I will take advantage of the van. A BBQ in the parking lot.

Not all the places I go are Glamorous. Some times iron Bars are welcomed. Bakersfield CA can get rough.

Because I travel with my home. I can travel a path less traveled. I don’t have to worry about where I will stay when night becomes to heavy. Little wonders are still all over this world. If you just fall of the interstate for a bit you will find them. This is by Moab UT. great little sleep over spot.

I built a little bunk for my boys to sleep. We took the van to Moon Lake UT. It was perfect!

Yuba Lake. Right off the beach we loaded the jet skis. No one wanted to ride them across the lake to the boat launch ramp. It was sun down and getting very cold.

I really do find amazing places to stay now that I’m free of the motel World. Idaho has a lot to offer in their BLM lands.

My wife came to work with me for our Anniversary. It was supposed to be a simple trip to Nampa ID. My work is never simple. They moved us to Kalamath Falls OR. Haha it turned into an amazing Road home. Crater Lake National Park, Lassen National Park, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite National Park. We even saw Mark Twain’s Cabin featured in the pic.

Summer was coming to an end Arron, Shanna Amber and I were not about to let it slip away though. I know you have read the articles of Mason’s Big Adventure. If not get to it. A full week of insane road trip madness. Idaho Potato Museum, Flat Head Lake MT, Glacier National Park, Banff National Park, Jasper National Park, The Royal Tyrell Musem, Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Jackson Hole Wyoming. Ya busy week. Go check it out. in the middle of nowhere again this sculpture is in the salt flats between Salt Lake and Wendover. It’s the only thing for over a hundred miles.

some trips are so long I have to make many pit stops. This was a drive to Lordsburg New Mexico. I hit Arches, Canyon Lands, and Mesa Verde National Parks. Plus many pull outs.

More proof. Inside the van is cool too. The best food I can find. Restaurants can’t compare with the budget, health, or goodness.

Hermosa Beach CA. The parking can be difficult. Here you see I squished into compact parking.

Travels through Utah are amazing. Camp fires are a must at times. This was just a typical drive home from work. The top pic is in New Mexico BLM land. That was the starting point of my drive home.

Huntington OR is a tiny town on the border of Idaho. There is an article somewhere in here about this stay.

my wife got tired of me having all the fun. She and her Cousin Dea stole the View Finder. They drove through Lake Tahoe to San Francisco down PCH to Santa Monica Blvd. Traveling through Monterey Bay for the Fourth of July and Morro Bay. In Steamboat Springs Colorado. I picked wild flowers and took naps.

Denver I took advantage of one of my favorite go to sites. Boondockers Welcome. These great people gave me a place to park including free solar power.

Oakridge OR was incredibly moody. Made for amazing views even leaving the grocery store.

while in Portland OR I visited Silver Falls State Park. $5 will get you access to the most incredible waterfalls. The trails even go behind so you can feel the raw power.

last week I took advantage of a day off and visited Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. Their Moro Rock allows for 360 degree views above the park.

I caught it a sunset. WOW!

As you can see having this van has really elevated my life. If you wonder if a van could make your life better. Just think of the experiences you could have in two years.

Dealing with it. 

In my last article I wrote about taking advantage of opportunities that present themselves. Sometimes they look like disadvantages until I spin them into advantages. 

My work Railroaded me again. I guess it comes with the territory. I wrote about riding my motorcycle home to Utah from Washington. I left my van in Hermiston Oregon. It’s sits on the Columbia River Gorge. The border of Washington USA. I received a Text from the Forman mid off cycle. “We will not meet in Hermiston OR next week. We will meet in Alamogordo NM.” Can’t be much farther apart. My van is on the Border of Washington I’m in Utah and I have to be near the border of Texas in five days. Most would see a problem with this but my mind starts to see potential. 
My wife and I have needed some time away. She likes roadtrips. So we climbed in the Kia and she drove me to the van. 

We left hungry so we had to stop in the tiny town of Tremonton UT. Not being familiar, we decided to drive through town, then decide where to go. It was 11:30 and every where had empty parking lots. I was not feeling inspired. Until we found the edge of town and a Mexican food bus. A few cars parked around and we New we found the gem. 

Very cool concept. It was parked by a river. They also owned the building on the lot so you could eat in a brick and mortar. If you felt better about it or you could sit inside and experience the adventure. 

The food was alright. I wish I could say it was incredible but it was a bit bland honestly. The experience was awesome though. A little girl came in with her family. She was maybe 6 years old. She enters and says “Wow its fancy in here”. It was cool. It really felt like Old Mexico. 
We made a few more stops on the way. Including this awesome bridge. 

Once we arrived in Hermiston I dropped the trailer parked the car and we jumped into the van. Of to the river we went.Where I got to spoil my bride with a vanhome cooked meal. She also got a breakfast the next morning before we started the wild ride home. 

After we ate breakfast we hooked up the trailer and she followed me back through the Blue mountains in Oregon. We decided a detour to Idaho Falls where her Sister lived was in order. 
What a beautiful state Idaho is. The scenic road we took, Highway 20 from Mountain Home to Idaho Falls, was incredible. 

The best part was suddenly we had landed on the moon. 

It was a volcano and the lava was still preserved. Extremely harsh environment. Temps upwards of 150 degrees in the summer and deep snow in the winter. Jagged rock formations everywhere and the vegetation had just begun to grow again. 

My wife had work in the morning and my son had drivers ed at 6:00 am. With all our detours I wasn’t going to make it home that night. So we stopped at another historic point. Caught 3 hrs of sleep and finished the drive landing home right in time. 5:45am. Just enough time to gather my son and get him to school. 

Luckily I had the day to regroup before I had to continue on to New Mexico. That will be a couple more stories. As for now I will bid you farewell. Tomorrow I might tell you more. 

Surprise in the Mojave Desert. 

More of perk 4

Living in a van while working allows me to better understand the places my company sends me to work. While my coworkers live in hotels I’m out discovering this world. Every place has its own bit of history. It’s own secret that is well loved within its community. 
Mojave is no different. I found a nice lady on a web site I’ve decided to join. I wrote about it in my previous article. “New Friends In Many Places.” The Site is called Boondockers Welcome

I’m staying on her property for 7 nights. I work during the day. 1 day I was instructed to take off due to federal DOT hours of service. 
The lady I was staying with has one of her sons living in another house on her property. He takes care of her. 
This man invited me to go to the local Exotic Cat House with him. I thought exactly what you are thinking. Um, no thanks, it’s not really my thing. He laughed and replied “it’s not like that. They have a bunch of Lions, Lepards, Lynx and Tigers. They are all species that are going extinct. The place is trying to breed them and reintroduce them back into the wild.” It’s called EFBC’s Feline Conservation Center
Of course I had to take advantage. It was very cool. Surprisingly we were greeted by Peacocks as we entered the park. Very pretty!  
The place was small but had a lot of cats and there Habitats weren’t terrible. Especially knowing that it’s not a zoo. It operates mainly on donations and volunteers. They are just hoping to save some animals for future generations to know. 
Again I got to experience something most never would. I am very grateful to live in a van.

More of Perk 4

Having opportunitys to experience the secrets of the world. 

Little things make the struggle worthwhile. 

My job requires me to work 8 days on then 7 days off. There of course are Holidays and vacation that change the amount of time out at work. Most of the people in this field of work choose to stay in hotels. Generally 2-3 guys per room. If they do three they will bring a cot or air mattress. The cost is then split and becomes affordable to manage. The snoring not so much. I decided that there has to be a better way. If you have read my earlier posts you know I’m now living in a class B motorhome. It’s a sprinter van. The cost really isn’t any better sometimes it’s even more costly to maintain and drive about then three guys in a Camary getting rooms. So why do I go through the trouble of finding spaces to park and dump my tanks and worry about propane and battery levels and how I’m going to watch the game while they all lie on their beds and zone into the grand television? That is why I’ve started this blog. A way to journal the perks I have because of my living arrangements. So tonight as I am cooking dinner once again I am reminded at how great my life is. In my van I have a two burner stove and a sink. I also have a microwave and a mini fridge. Tonight’s dinner was seared Ahi Tuna on a bed of rice served with sautéed mushrooms onions and green beans. Pretty hard to get that on our budget living in a hotel room. This week I also ate salmon twice, three lobster tails, artichokes, asparagus, zucchini and squash. Many meals I’ve had the pleasure of making for myself. Spending a fraction of what most my coworkers end up spending on fast food trying to fill their guts. I cook on cast iron pans or my BBQ that I bring along as well. So my dishes stay minimal. My water consumption is a bit high because I eat a lot of vegetables which do require a little washing. The desire to live out of the box is real for me. Next time you see some poor schmuck living in his van trying to be left alone in a parking lot don’t call the cops. He is probably just a good ole boy trying to get by like the rest off you. We’re not all creepers. 

Perk 6: Food is incredible when you have the means and tools readily available in your van just like a regular home.